Saturday, November 19, 2005


Glory be to Jesus Christ!

I found this article extreamly interesting, I pray that all of you do too. Enjoy the hymns also :)

May the Peace and Blessing of the Lord our God be with all of us always :)

your brother in Christ,

Written by the Very Rev. John Breck

"Three Generations" By the hand of Fr. Luke Dingman

Hymns(audio, right click and open in a new window or tab):
Let My Prayer Arise In Your Sight As Incense

Awed By The Beauty

At rare and privileged moments we find ourselves overcome by a burning desire for God. Something from beyond presses us to venture into a mystery that both reveals and conceals God’s very being. That Something or Someone leads us on a sacred quest that attains its end not by reason, but by way of the heart. Consequently, the language we use to understand and convey that mystery, even to a limited extent, is necessarily the symbolic, poetic language of Liturgy. It is through the prayer of the Church that we come closest to perceiving, experiencing and celebrating God as the object of our most fervent longing.

If we can know anything of the divine mystery, it is because God, from His “infinite otherness,” has disclosed Himself to us. He has revealed His face to us in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Church, however, confesses and celebrates the truth that this Jesus is Himself the eternal Son of God, “consubstantial” with the Father and the Spirit, thus One of the Holy Trinity. Yet He is also one of us, having taken upon Himself our humanity, including suffering and death. He became “incarnate,” not only entering into our life, but assuming it in its fallen state, restoring it to the original perfection for which it was intended, then rising and ascending with that life – our life – so that we might share fully in the glory He shared with the Father from before the foundation of the world.

This language we use to speak of God made known to us in Christ is ontological language. It expresses the divine mystery in categories of being. In order to reveal that mystery to us and at the same time enable us to participate in it, Jesus had to be in all reality both God and man. God in His eternal essence, He had to “assume” our human nature, thereby becoming the God-man. In the perspective of the a-symmetrical Christology characteristic of Orthodox Christianity, the Subject of the incarnation remains the eternal Son; yet He takes upon Himself all the conditions of human existence, in order to work out our salvation by His own death and resurrection. Without that ontological participation in human life, there could be no salvation. If Jesus were simply a man in whom God’s Word came to expression, He could not save us. He could speak to us about God, but He could not provide us with direct and personal access to God. To be both Revealer and Savior, Jesus must Himself be “God in the flesh.”

This aspect of divine mystery, on which our life and salvation depend, explains the Church’s traditional veneration of the Virgin Mary, celebrated liturgically and in personal devotions as the Mother of God. The eternal Son of God became Jesus, the Son of Man, in the womb of the Holy Theotokos, “the God-bearer.”

On November 21, we join with Orthodox Christians throughout the world to celebrate the second great Marian feast of the liturgical year: the “Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.” This feast has as its textual foundation the mid-second century document known as the “Book of James” (thus Origen) or, more commonly as “The Protoevangelium of James” (implying that its tradition is older than that of the canonical Gospels). The work is an apocryphal panegyric, written to honor Mary by depicting her birth, her presentation in the Temple, her betrothal to Joseph, and the miraculous birth of Jesus (the later chapters 22-25, concerning John the Baptist, are secondary). Although it was formally condemned in the West, the Eastern Churches have drawn heavily upon it in formulating the liturgical traditions for the great feasts of Mary’s birth and her reception into the Temple, where, it is held, she was introduced into the Holy of Holies by the (high?) priest and there, was “fed by the angels.”

A great deal of fruitless discussion has focused on the historical unlikelihood that Mary could in fact have been raised in the Temple and particularly in its most sacred space, into which the Jewish high priest entered only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Such discussion totally misses the point of the traditional account and, in the process, obscures the truth that underlies it.

Every affirmation the Church makes concerning Mary is, once again, an affirmation of our faith in the Person of her Son, Jesus Christ. Mariology, in other words, is necessarily a function of Christology. To exalt the Holy Virgin with liturgical images of her presence in the earthly Temple, and especially in the sacred altar area, is to recognize and proclaim that she has been elevated to the true Holy of Holies, where she is perpetually nourished by her Son, the Word of God, and where she makes her ceaseless intercession on behalf of us all.

The images of the Protoevangelium of James, then, are not simply the product of pious speculation. Although the work is apocryphal, it enshrines and declares truth about the Holy Virgin that the Church has always known. Through her miraculous conception in the womb of Anna, through her presentation in the Temple at the age of three years, where she was “nurtured like a dove and received food from the hand of an angel,” through her perpetual virginity throughout her marriage to Joseph, and through her bringing forth of the child Jesus, she fulfills the blessing uttered by the priest at her presentation: “The Lord has magnified your name among all generations; because of you the Lord at the end of the days will manifest His redemption to the children of Israel.”

God has manifested His redemption through the birth of His eternal Son from the womb of the Holy Theotokos. The hymnography of the feast expresses it well: “Fed in faith by heavenly bread in the Temple of the Lord, you have brought forth to the world the Bread of Life that is the Word.” As His Holy Mother, and as our perpetual Intercessor who offers her prayer for the world’s salvation, this woman, whom we celebrate in the Church today and every day, has truly become “the most pure Temple of the Savior, the sacred treasure of the glory of God, … the abode of Heaven.”

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